Exploit your local resources
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CTA. 2002. Exploit your local resources. Rural Radio Resource Pack 02/4. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CTA.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/57148
An organic farmer from Zambia, and an organic specialist with a crop buying agency discuss the benefits of organic methods for small scale farmers, particularly during times of food crisis.
Exploit your local resources Cue: Is organic farming only important for cash crops, or does it also have a role in improving food security? And can small-scale farmers establish organic production on their own, or will they always depend on support from outside agencies? To discuss these questions, Daniel Sikazwe invited two organic experts to his studio in Lusaka, Zambia. One, Mr. Malinga is an organic farmer, who sells his wide range of crops in local markets. The other, Patrick Killen, is an organic specialist with the crop buying agency, Agriflora. Daniel was interested to find out what small-scale farmers could achieve without external supports, and whether organic farming could be a good system for subsistence farmers, particularly during times of food crisis. He began by asking Mr. Malinga about the advantages of organic farming, in contrast to using chemical inputs, such as fertilizers. IN: ?You can do things without ? OUT: ? already hunger in his district.? DUR?N 4?35? BACK ANNOUNCEMENT: Daniel Sikazwe, speaking to Mr. Malinga, an organic farmer, and Patrick Killen, an organic specialist with Agriflora. Transcript Malinga You can do things without expecting somebody to bring you something from somewhere. You can do it within your locality. You don?t have to expect fertilizer to come from Europe, you just use what you have within the environment. Sikazwe And how long have you been an organic farmer yourself? Malinga I started organic farming in 1998. The rest of the years I was using conventional farming, of which I was using chemical fertilizers, and I found that I was just wasting my time by using chemical fertilizers in my field. Then I stopped it completely in 1990. Sikazwe Do you think it is possible that, as a small-scale farmer, you can embark upon successful organic farming without much support from bigger companies? Malinga Yes, because most of the things I am using, they are locally found. Except when we need irrigation, it is where the small scale farmers would like to have help. But the rest of the things you can?t, because you can do it yourself. Sikazwe Well, Mr. Malinga, I want to find out how, as small-scale farmers, you share knowledge. What kind of knowledge do you share, what kind of techniques? Malinga I always meet with my neighbours, and we teach each other how to make compost, how to control pests using local, like tephrosia, we use tephrosia leaves to spray our crops. Sikazwe Do you have any hope that organic farming will always be there to support you, to support the community, or probably at some point, you might just want to get back to conventional farming? Malinga I don?t think that I can go back to conventional farming, because it is expensive, and I cannot manage. I nearly failed when I was using conventional farming, but with the organic farming I cannot stop, and I cannot change. I will continue with my organic, because I have seen the benefits. As I am talking, I have enough food at my farm, compared to my neighbours who are not practising organic farming, they are really starving. They did whatever they could do: they used fertilizers, they ploughed and they put Compound D, and they put urea, but their crops didn?t grow. But for me the crops grow very well. Sikazwe What are some of the crops that you have been growing? Malinga I have been growing mainly legumes, like velvet beans is for a cover crop, sunnhemp, maize is a must. And I grow soya beans, cowpeas, pigeonpeas, and tephrosia, and the -what do you call it? Sikazwe OK we will get back to it when you get it. I thought we could also look at this question about whether organic farming is only possible for farmers that might have a ready market, like those dealing with Agriflora, and probably exporting to western countries, or shall I say Europe. Whether there is any possibility really of organic farming being embarked upon for those that might just depend on it for the sake of food security? Killen Well I think, yes it can be used in that capacity. I think Mr. Malinga is an example for the fact that organic farming is suitable. But I must say that from visiting his farm, he is very observant, the whole time thinking of ways of developing and moving further. And the farm there, I must admit that when I visited there I was shocked at how fertile it was looking. And he is growing also on a sandy soil, but his crops still came through on a sandy soil, which is very impressive. Sikazwe At the moment there is this food crisis around southern Africa. Do you think organic farming could offer a solution to the food problems that we have at the moment? Killen Yes, in part. Obviously the thing with organic farming is it is not instant farming. You take time to build up soil fertility. In Mr. Malinga?s case, he was growing conventionally and then slowly as he reduced the fertilizers he increased the beans and peas, the legumes that he introduced into his crop rotation. So after a while then, he was able to take out the fertilizers, and rely solely on legumes and compost etc, for his fertilization. He is managing quite well, and we were discussing on our way here, this year he has managed to get crops to feed himself, his family and his workers etc. His yields are quite good, and the neighbours who are practising agriculture, and a similar style of agriculture to him, have also got yields, whereas those who have used chemicals have struggled this year, and there is already hunger in his district. End of track.